Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

20 April 2016

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Bright lights, big city.  As soon as we are done, we will be calling in Stephen O’Brien, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of these United Nations, who as you know is in Ecuador.

At 3 p.m., there will be a briefing here by the Permanent Mission of Uruguay entitled “Uruguay’s National experience and beyond the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem”.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

The Secretary-General has been spending a second day in the Netherlands, and just wrapped up a question-and-answer session with university students in Rotterdam.

Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General spoke at a ceremony to mark the seventieth anniversary of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  He said that seven decades ago the founding Members of the United Nations acted with a vision and foresight in establishing the Court, adding that its presence and work remain as relevant as ever for the international community.

The Secretary-General also met with the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Üzümcü, and addressed a group of parliamentarians from the two chambers of the Parliament of the Netherlands.

He also had meetings with the Dutch Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister, Lilianne Ploumen, and Angelina Jolie Pitt, the Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  The Secretary-General will be back here in New York tomorrow.

**Deputy Secretary-General

The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, spoke at a High-Level Forum on “The Africa we want in 2030, 2063 and Beyond”.

The meeting looks at how the UN can work with the African Union to integrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) with the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Africa’s Agenda 2063.

The Deputy Secretary-General said that we need to work together to mobilize all good forces to support the people of Africa in realizing their hopes and aspirations for peace, development and human rights.

**Yemen

An update from Yemen:  the Yemeni peace negotiations will start tomorrow in Kuwait, under the auspices of the United Nations.

The delegations will focus on the implementation of the Security Council resolution 2216 (2015).  They are expected to develop a framework that paves the way to a peaceful and orderly process based on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference.

**Egypt

As you will have seen, in a statement we issued last night concerning judicial proceedings in Egypt against a number of civil society organizations and human rights defenders, the Secretary-General underscored the important role that civil society plays in ensuring that States meet developmental, social and civic objectives and obligations.  He stresses the need for human rights defenders and civil society in general, as well as the media, to work without undue restrictions.

**Darfur

The African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is calling for restraint after the recent outbreak of violence in East Darfur which culminated in an attack on the residence of the Wali in El Daein on Monday.

The mission calls on all parties involved in these unfortunate events to refrain from acts that could further aggravate the situation.

**Ethiopia

I also want to flag a statement issued by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) on the abduction of children in Ethiopia:

UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms the abduction last Friday of some 100 children in western Ethiopia during a brutal attack on their community by armed assailants, allegedly cattle raiders from South Sudan.  Unverified reports indicate that children were also among the dead and wounded.

UNICEF staff are assessing the situation of children affected by this horrific act of unbridled violence, and stands ready to support the community.

As the Ethiopian Government works to obtain the release of these children, UNICEF joins in calling for their swift and unconditional release to their families.

**Fiji

Concerning Fiji, I know you just had a briefing with the Prime Minister, but the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also says that two months after Cyclone Winston, significant humanitarian needs remain in Fiji.

Urgent needs include the distribution of agricultural supplies, construction of shelter and toilets, the implementation of mosquito control and surveillance measures to stop the spread of disease, and the provision of psychosocial support.

And the Fiji Flash Appeal, requesting $39 million, is only currently 38 per cent funded.

**Myanmar

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Janet Jackson, says that the recent accident, where a boat carrying some 60 people in Sittwe Township capsized, serves as a tragic reminder of the vulnerability that many communities face in the area of Rakhine.

An estimated 21 people, including nine children, lost their lives.  They were mainly internally displaced people from the Sin Tet Maw camp.

UN and NGO staff on the ground have provided support to transport the injured, as well as medical assistance, to the local health clinic.

**Refugees

On a somewhat related note, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) team has interviewed survivors of an overcrowded boat that sank in the Mediterranean in what could be one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants, the agency says.

If confirmed, as many as 500 people may have lost their lives when the large boat went down in the Mediterranean Sea at an unknown location between Libya and Italy.

So far this year, more than 179,000 refugees and migrants have reached Europe by sea, and 761 have died or gone missing while attempting this perilous journey.

**Children

A UNICEF report launched today says that children who are falling furthest behind in society benefit the most when countries invest in more effective social protection.

The report consolidates recent studies on trends and patterns of change in child poverty and the impact of social protection on children in 30 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

**Bahrain

A couple of more things:  I was asked by one of your colleagues about an incident that took place in Bahrain.

The Secretary-General condemns the attack in Karbabad in Bahrain on 16 April that killed a policeman and seriously injured two others.  He expresses his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Secretary-General hopes the perpetrators of this heinous crime will be brought to justice swiftly.

**Press Encounters

We have a number of briefings here tomorrow:

At 10 a.m., the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs on “Transforming public institutions and monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals” by the Chairperson and Members of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA).

11 a.m., Evo Morales, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.  President Morales will be here to brief you on the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on the World Drug Problem.

At noon, my guests will be Forest Whitaker, Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, and Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

**Jeffrey Sachs

And this just in, in answer to another question I received through e-mail but that I would like to share with you:  We have been asked whether Jeff Sachs is continuing his role as an adviser to the Secretary-General while also serving as a foreign policy adviser to Bernie Sanders.

Mr. Sachs has told us that, so as to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest, he has notified the Sanders campaign that he will no longer be an adviser to them and has requested that he no longer be identified as such.

**Questions and Answers

On that note, Mr. Lee?

Question:  Did that follow yesterday’s election results?  [laughter]  Just a question.  Anyway, I wanted to ask you about Yemen.  I’ve seen a… a… breaking news from the UN News Centre that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, in a press statement or press release, has said that… that the talks are delayed.  And I just wondered, I mean, one, that’s what they say.  And so I didn’t get the press release.  I didn’t get a note to correspondents.  And I’m wondering, can you say… do you have something from this podium about how long it’s delayed for, what his communications are? [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I will stick to what I’ve just announced.  So I will…

Question:  I guess I… I mean, as a journalist that’s actually asked his office to send such press releases, how does this work?

Spokesman:  I can’t answer it, because I can only speak to the information that I have.

Question:  Okay.  Then I’m going to ask you on Burundi very fast and then I’ll have other… wait.  But I wanted to ask you, yesterday in Bujumbura, the US envoy on the Great Lakes, Tom Perriello, said in widely quoted comments, at least in Burundi, that he believes that the Government is the driver of the crisis and not the victim.  And I wanted to know, the… the… is… what’s… what’s the… what’s the UN’s view given that it has the… you know, the envoy Mr. [Jamal] Benomar…  What is the role of the Government in the current crisis?  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  The UN has said and has said repeatedly, whether openly in conversations with the Government, that the Government has a responsibility to ensure peace in its country, to ensure that there’s freedom of assembly, freedom of information, and that the political process gets back on track.  I mean, obviously, the Government… any Government bears a lot of responsibility.  Ms. Landry?

Question:  Stéphane, do you have any information about evacuations from besieged Syrian towns, medical evacuations?

Spokesman:  Yes, I think… in fact, I was just given this as I was coming in, which is that today plans are under way to evacuate some 500 people, including the sick, wounded and their family members, from the besieged Four Towns, which are, as you may know, Foah, Kefraya, Madaya and Zabadani, in urgent need of life‑saving medical attention.  We continue, obviously, to call on all parties to the conflict that medical evacuation of the sick and wounded be facilitated in a timely and systematic manner everywhere in Syria and by all parties to the conflict.  We urge all parties to allow access for medical workers to undertake proper medical assessment and treat patients wherever they may be located.  Similarly, the UN also calls on all parties, particularly the Syrian authorities, to allow for all necessary medical items and equipment, including surgical items, to be allowed onto inter‑agency convoys and to reach the besieged towns and hard‑to‑reach areas.  Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  As you have already mentioned, a tragic incident took place in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy whereby some 500 people have died, women, children, and men.  What does the Secretary‑General have to say about this?

Spokesman:  You know, I think… first of all, the Secretary‑General’s thoughts are with the families of those who perished and are with the… those who… the… those who may have survived, hopefully, if people have, indeed, survived.  I think this is yet another tragic incident that underscores the need for Member States as a whole, for the international community, to focus and refocus on the issue of refugees and migrants.  As you know, the Secretary‑General will be convening a special meeting in the… in September on mass movement of people.  There needs to be a coordinated approach between those countries of destination, the transit countries, and countries of origin in how to deal with the flow of people.  Obviously, there needs to be clear, legal pathways for people to be able to move, for refugees’ rights to be respected, and for economic migrants’ human rights and dignity to also be respected.  And we also know that the vast majority of these people that are on the move come from conflict countries, which should also focus… help us redouble our efforts to solve the conflicts that are ongoing.

Question:  Does he think that the European countries are doing enough regarding the problem?

Spokesman:  I think what we need to see is… continue to see is a more coordinated approach on the part of the European countries, and I think we need to look at currently who… if you look at where refugees are housed, they’re overwhelmingly in developing countries, in countries that have… that suffer themselves, that are themselves in economic situations or middle‑income countries.  I think we see it in Lebanon.  We see it in Jordan, Turkey as well.  The Secretary‑General and the head of the World Bank were recently in Lebanon and Jordan, trying to raise money.  The World Bank opened up new financing facilities.  Those were also announced during the World Bank spring meetings.  And I think all those… there’s so many issues we need to work on in parallel to try to solve this, so people do not need to put their lives at risk in order to get a better life.  Yes, in the back.

Question:  Thank you.  Staying on the issue of tragedies at sea, the capsizing in Myanmar, I noticed neither your statement nor that of Ms. Jackson in her written statement mention the fact that the victims were Rohingya.  Is there a reason why the ethnic background of the victims is not part of the UN statement?

Spokesman:  No, I think the… the UN has used the word “Rohingya,” and we’ve talked about that.  I mean, I wouldn’t read too much into what I’ve just said.  I think we’ve expressed our deep concern about the state of the Rohingya people and those who are especially in the camps and the fate that they’ve had to endure as they’ve tried to leave their country.  Yes, ma’am?  Yes, please.

Question:  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Would you mind using your microphone, which should be on the side.  Somebody will help you.  There you go.  That’s okay.

Question:  Will the… I’m from Standard Publications Malta.  Will the Secretary‑General or anybody else from the Secretariat be interacting with EU (European Union) leaders on this issue of the continuing tragedies in the Mediterranean?

Spokesman:  This is something that we are in continuous dialogue with the European Union leaders.  The Deputy Secretary‑General on a trip we will announce will be going to Brussels soon.  That will be on his agenda.  The Secretary‑General’s Special Adviser, Karen AbuZayd, who’s leading the drafting of the report on the mass movement of people, has also been in touch with EU leaders, as have our colleagues at UNHCR.

Question:  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Sorry?

Question:  Not here.

Spokesman:  Well, and here as well.  It’s done on a… Abdelhamid and then… go ahead.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have a question on the intra‑Syrian talks.  What is the status now?  Do you have any development?  And the second, today ISIS was driven out of the city of Derna in Eastern Libya, so the people are celebrating.  Is the Secretary‑General aware of this development?

Spokesman:  I hadn’t particularly seen that report.  We obviously welcome any report of the demise of ISIS holding a town.  We know the kind of suffering the people have had to endure, and we hope that whatever authorities come into town fully respect people’s rights.  On the talks, they are moving, moving along.  I think there were discussions today with a Government delegation led by Ambassador [Bashar al] Jaafari.  No update as such, but, obviously, we’re… the talks continue to move.  Yeah?

Question:  I have two questions, one on Israel‑Palestine.  Yesterday, there was a demonstration on Tel Aviv, where thousands went out to support the soldier who was filmed executing a heavily wounded Palestinian.  And on these demonstrations, there were signs and calls for, like, death to the Arabs, kill them all, etc.  And hours before, the Israeli Prime Minister issued a statement, according to press reports, asking for the leniency for the soldier.  So I would like to hear your statement regarding this.  And I have a second question about Egypt.

Spokesman:  I think we’d expressed our concern… deep concern about the incident over the soldier.  What we also know is that, from what we understand, he is being tried and facing justice for what happened.  So I think we have to wait and see, obviously let the judicial system play out.

Question:  What about the… the… such demonstrations…

Spokesman:  Listen, I haven’t seen the reports of the demonstrations.  Obviously, as a matter of principle, we stand against messages of hate, but I think our focus is obviously on the fact that this soldier is facing justice.  Your second question?

Question:  My second question is:  I know yesterday you issued a statement regarding Egypt and what’s going on there.  My question is whether there’s somebody from the UN monitoring these trials or human rights…

Spokesman:  I don’t believe we have anybody obviously in the chamber, but we are fully aware of what’s… of the proceedings, and we’re following them, and we’re keeping an eye on the proceedings.  Madame and then sir.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have a question also regarding refugees.  You had mentioned that the Secretary‑General is planning a special meeting in September on migration and refugees.  I was just wondering, on a practical level, that’s five months from now.  Is there any way that that can be accelerated, or why is it taking so long?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, there are different tracks.  There are obviously the operational tracks, which UNHCR and IOM (International Organization for Migration) are in the lead in providing support to the refugees, to the migrants.  There is a, unfortunately, always longer political diplomatic track when it comes to bringing Member States together to get them to focus on a problem.  There will be a report to the General Assembly from the Secretary‑General, which should be issued fairly soon, that will set the stage for the meeting.  When you’re looking at how to change policies, how to look at such a complex issue where it involves different types of countries’ laws and things, I think it, unfortunately, takes time.  But it’s not a… while that process… the diplomatic process works its way through the machinery, obviously, there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance, for those countries that are housing so many refugees, especially those fleeing from Syria, Turkey, Libya… Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.  There is a focus on the short‑term and medium‑term economic health of those countries and, obviously, on providing direct support to those refugees who have landed in Europe.

Question:  And just a quick follow‑up:  Regarding… the SG has basically said that accepting these refugees is a global problem.  And yet we know that it’s primarily the neighbouring countries and Europe where a lot of them are going.  Is he making an effort or any countries, you know, further away, whether it be other countries in Asia, China, India, etc., are…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  That’s something he often raises in his bilateral discussions, and it’s often something that will be raised as part of this global discussion, which is the shared responsibility for refugees.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Thank you.  On this… just coincidentally, it’s kind of a follow‑up, but on the migrants, leading by example and asking countries to lead by example, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) rates South Korea as a high‑income country, not middle‑income and not developing.  And you had mentioned that most of these refugees are now being housed in middle‑income or developing countries.  I’m wondering if… in any of his bilateral dialogues or in the interest of leading by example, if the Secretary‑General has made any special outreach to the Government of South Korea to ask them to lead by example and take in more migrants or any migrants whatsoever.

Spokesman:  As I said, this is… listen, I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the number of refugees and migrants South Korea’s taken, but this is a message that the Secretary‑General puts to all countries.  Yes, sir, Iftikhar?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Does the Secretary‑General have any reaction to the continuing targeting of polio workers in Pakistan?  Especially as evidenced by the tragedy in Karachi today.

Spokesman:  It is clear that any attack on health workers is not only an attack on the individuals themselves, but all the people they’re trying to help, especially when you’re talking about children.  The eradication of polio is so critical to the global health agenda.  Health workers need to be respected as they go about their work.  As you know, health workers, whether they are… vaccination workers, whether they are UN or others, do amazing work often in extremely difficult circumstances.  Oleg?

Question:  Thanks, Stéphane.  On the evacuations from the besieged areas in Syria, 500 people is a big amount of people.  And how is… will the operation happen?  I mean, are they going to be carried out by… in trucks?

Spokesman:  I think most of the evacuations are being done by road.

Question:  And how long is it going to take?  Do you have any…

Spokesman:  No, I don’t have a… I don’t have the time frame.  I think the sad thing is that we should not have to negotiate medical evacuations.  It’s a fact that we do, unfortunately, but our message to all the parties is that people who need to have access to medical… to be medically evacuated should be allowed to do so without complicated and complex negotiations.

Question:  So all of these 500 people are either sick or wounded.  Right?

Spokesman:  Yeah, they need to be evacuated in order to be saved.

Question:  What about women and children?

Spokesman:  Right now what we’re talking about are sick… the sick, the wounded and the… and their family members.  Obviously, what we would like to see is a complete cessation of violence so that people can move about and restart their lives.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask you on South Sudan if you have any update.  Seems Riek Machar still has not arrived.  Some people are saying the conditions were not met in terms of cantonment, demilitarization.  People are also saying that some anti‑aircraft guns have been added to the Juba airport.  What is the UN… given that UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) is right there, do they…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Obviously, we hope very much to see the return of Riek Machar as quickly as possible.  It’s an issue of great priority for us, and we urge all sides to demonstrate a spirit of compromise so we can get a full implementation of the agreement that was signed in August.  As you know, the Secretary‑General has spoken repeatedly to both Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir when he was in South Sudan earlier this year and again last weekend.

Question:  And could I… I’m going to try to make these fast, so I wanted to ask you about this trip, because I’ve now seen the publication Georgia Today say that a UN official has confirmed that Ban Ki‑moon will travel there.

Spokesman:  Well, as you know, the trips are official once they’re announced from here.

Question:  But this says a UN official…

Spokesman:  I… What can I tell you?  Okay.  We’re going to go to Mr. O’Brien, and then I’ll come back and finish the questions.  Okay.  Stephen, are you on?  No.  Okay.  We’re dialling him now.  I’m not sure how much time he will have, because apparently he has to board a helicopter to go back, but we’ll try to get him on.

 

Correspondent:  Definitely have more questions.

Spokesman:  I know.  I said I would.

Correspondent:  Appreciate it.

Correspondent:  Can we have some time for questions while…

Spokesman:  Let’s just…

Correspondent:  They’re dialling him in.  He’s on the tarmac.

Spokesman:  Do you want to… go ahead, Oleg.  Go ahead.

Question:  So again, on this evacuations, do you have the safeguards from the parties?

Spokesman:  We have… they would not go forward if we did not have a certain comfort level that they could go forward safely.

Question:  And where to they are going to be evacuated?

Spokesman:  I guess to the nearest working health facility.  I can get you…

Question:  Because the last time, remember, some of the people were sent to Lebanon.  They were exchanged for the people in other…

Spokesman:  Let me find out if I can get more.  Stephen?  No?  Mr. Abbadi, go ahead, while we kill time here.

Question:  Stéphane, back to the question of… the issue of refugees, there are some who think that the question has become… has gone beyond the nature of humanitarian issue, that because some European countries feel that their presence of refugees threaten the homogeneity social integrity of their countries.  And on the other hand…

Staff Member:  You’re being connected now.

Spokesman:  Stephen?

Stephen O’Brien:  Yes, hello.

Spokesman:  Hi, Stephen, we know you’re tight for time.  You’re into the briefing room.  If you can let us know where you are, and then go ahead.

[Briefing by Stephen O’Brien]

Spokesman:  Back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Mr. Abbadi, just to answer your question quickly, it is, of course, beyond a humanitarian…

Correspondent:  I’m sorry.  I didn’t complete my question.  [laughter]

 

Spokesman:  My answer’s ready, though.  Go ahead.  [laughter]

Question:  Some European countries are concerned that the refugees threaten their social integrity and other countries… in other countries, there are demonstrations against what is happening in the Mediterranean.  Does the Secretary‑General think that the issue is now taking on some aspect of international security?

Spokesman:  The refugee and migrant problem is obv… is clearly linked to security issues, to humanitarian issues, to development issues.  I think the Secretary‑General’s message repeatedly, in different fora, has been that the flow… inflow of refugees and migrants into a country can be a win‑win for the country.  It’s a win‑win for the ref… for the people themselves and also for… very often for the economic state of… of the country.  These things have to be managed, and that’s what the meeting in September will be about.  Matthew, then Oleg.

Question:  Sure.  Okay.  I wanted to ask… this is also on South Sudan, but it’s not tied to… to… to Riek Machar as such.  There’s a lengthy 18 April piece in Time magazine about rape as a tool of war.  And one of the… one of the… the… the situations that it describes are people who sought shelter in the UN… UNMISS Protection of Civilians Sites being, they say, repeatedly raped inside the camps.  And so it… it’s not something that I’d heard of.  And I wonder, is it something that the UN and UNMISS keep track of?  It sounds pretty bad to be in a… in a POC (protection of civilians) site.  And so what… what is the UN’s position on whether rapes have occurred in these sites, as described in Time magazine?

Spokesman:  I don’t have any reports to that end.  Obviously, the situations inside the camps are challenging given that these protection of civilians sites were not designed to house the tens and tens of thousands of people we are housing.  We’ve seen that sometimes the security situation inside those POCs has been precarious.  We hope, if there are any reports, that they are reported to the UN authorities.

Question:  And I wanted to ask, there’s been another indictment in the Ng Lap Seng case, and I wanted to know, since it seems, in looking at this OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) audit that basically all they did was read the previous indictment and look at… run down each company named in it and didn’t go anything beyond it, since the individual now indicted is identified in one of the pleadings as Individual 1, does this… and has now been identify… identified as Ying Lin, is the UN… you said you’re following cases in Egypt.  Are you following this case in such a way…  [inaudible]

 

Spokesman:  Yes, we’re following this case.  [inaudible]

Question:  And what… what impact has it had…?  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I just said we’re following the case and taking whatever measures we need to take.  Oleg?

Question:  And the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) audit, it was said it would be out in mid‑April.  We’re now April 20th… Late April?  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Yes, we’re… we’re… it should be… it’s going through the finalization procedure according to UNDP rules.  We understand it should be out soon.  Oleg, and then we will release ourselves.

Question:  Stéphane, also on these evacuations, have they already started, or you’re just planning to start with them?

Spokesman:  I think we’re planning to start them.  As soon as we have more… more information, I will let you know.

Question:  And something else on Syria.  A couple of NGOs are ringing the bells about the situation in Aleppo, saying that it threatens the whole ceasefire regime over there.  What’s Ban Ki‑moon’s reaction to that?  Is he concerned of what’s happening over there?  And at the same time, there are warning calls coming from Geneva concerning the negotiations over there.

Spokesman:  Obviously, the violence we’ve seen recently is worrisome in regard to the cessation of hostilities.  It is still broadly holding, but obviously, if you’re in a town that is under attack, all you really care, and understandably, is what is going on in your immediate town.  And we understand the frustration of those Syrian people who are… who continue to be under attack.  I think all the parties and those who have influence on the parties should redouble their efforts to ensure that the cessation of hostility holds and the violence lessens.  The talks, as I’ve said earlier, they’re continuing.  In any sort of negotiation such like these, there will be ups and downs.  After five years of war, it is difficult to get people to sit down together and agree on a common way forward.  Mr. [Staffan] de Mistura and his team are continuing to work at it.  I think the types of talks he’s designed, these proximity talks, are elastic and flexible and allow for the ups and downs of the negotiation… negotiating process.  So we’re continuing.  And as I’ve said yesterday, obviously, the Secretary‑General is following the talks closely and continues to have full confidence in Mr. de Mistura.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  And this is on access.  I’m going to try to do it as politely and productively as possible, but I wanted to ask you something.  This week I was stopped at the gate coming in on 46th Street at 6 p. m. and told that I cannot enter after 6 p.m.  And the rules say 7.  So I wanted to know, today I was told to go to the back of the line of NGOs and was told, “We know who you are; go to the back.”  So it took about 35 minutes to get into the building.  I call… you said call MALU (Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit), and I did, and nothing occurred.  And so I’m asking you, because this is injuring my work.  And my final piece is, when a meeting such as the one between [John] Kerry and Mr.… Mr. Kerry and Mr. [Javad] Zarif takes place, is this… I wasn’t able to get through the turnstile.  And so I wanted to know, this is obviously a newsworthy event that those with white passes can cover.  How am I supposed to cover that?

Spokesman:  On those… on the second part… on the last meeting, I think you should talk to MALU and make sure they get you in.

Question:  It…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  It’s a very busy time of the… at the General Assembly… at the UN.  There’s a line.  I think people wait on line.

Question:  So you’re saying the media generally, because I’ve seen people go straight through the…  [inaudible] … “I know who you are; go to the back of the line,” so I’m asking.

Spokesman:  I don’t manage crowd control.  If there’s a line to get in, if people tell you get in a line, you get in a line.  And on your first part, again, discuss these things with MALU and DPI (Department of Public Information).

Correspondent:  I just… okay.

Spokesman:  Last question.  We’ll take two more, and then we’ll go.  Some people are hungry.  Go ahead, ma’am.  Yeah.  Your microphone, please.  Thank you.  Okay.  There you go.

Question:  Elizabeth Mora, Diario de Mexico.  For the children born in the camps, what nationality they have?  They have the nationality of the country, or just they are refugees without a country?

Spokesman:  You’re asking a question I’m not sure I’m able to answer off the top of my head.  I think it obviously depends on the laws of the countries where they are, but I would assume they mostly inherit the citizenship of their parents.  Yes, ma’am?  Go ahead.

Question:  Sorry.  I simply want to express my surprise and outrage at the conditions inflicted on people yesterday at 320 East 45th.  I arrived at 10 to 9.  For two hours I was cooped up with 500 other people in a very small space.  It was extremely hot.  There was no water.  There were no indications of a fire exit.  And there’s certainly no indications of restrooms and no chairs for the elderly.  When I finally got into the place where you get your press badge, there were 18 booths, and only four were staffed.  So the whole thing took me two hours, and this is really unacceptable.

Spokesman:  All right.  I’m… I apologize for what you had to go through, and I will raise it with my colleagues.

Question:  What about the confiscation of the newsletter yesterday for the UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session)?  Have you seen it? [inaudible]

Spokesman:  There’s no… there was no confiscation of the newsletters.

Correspondent:  All right.

Spokesman:  People were asked, as they are not to distribute leaflets inside the UN.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.